Chives Farming in Kenya: A Potential Source of Income For Farmers.

Chives are classified as herbs that belong to Allium family, which also includes onions, garlic, and leeks. They are characterized by their long, thin leaves that resemble grass or small hollow tubes. Chives farming in Kenya has not only contributed to food security but has also become a potential source of income for farmers in Kenya. Chives are sought after both in local and international markets, making chives farming a promising agribusiness venture.

Chives Farming in Kenya.

Cultivation practices.

Climate and Soil: Chives thrive in well-drained soils that have a slightly acidic to neutral pH. They are best suited to areas with a cool to temperate climate. In Kenya, regions with altitudes ranging from 1500 to 2500 metres provide favorable conditions for chive cultivation.

Propagation: Chives can be propagated from seeds or divisions. When propagating from seeds, you sow your seeds in the nursery and later transplant them, while propagation from division involves separating mature clumps and replanting them.

Watering and Irrigation: Chives require consistent moisture, especially during the growing season. Drip irrigation systems are recommended to avoid waterlogging, ensuring that the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.

Fertilization: Organic matter and balanced fertilizers are essential for healthy chive growth. Regular applications of compost or well-rotted manure, coupled with a balanced NPK fertilizer, contribute to robust plants.

Nutritional value.

Incorporating chives in to your diet contributes to overall health and well-being as they are a rich source of essential nutrients, including Vitamins A and C. They also contain minerals like potassium and calcium.

Intercropping.

Chives are versatile and can be grown alongside other crops, making them an excellent choice for intercropping. Their slender and vertical growth ensures they do not overshadow other plants when intercropped. Chives can be intercropped with vegetable such as tomatoes and carrots. Intercropping chives with other vegetables allows farmers to maximize land use and diversify their agricultural activities while promoting natural pest control.

Market demand.

The global demand for fresh herbs such as chives has been steadily increasing in the local and export market. In Kenya, the growing interest in culinary diversity and healthier eating habits has created a local market for chives in supermarkets, restaurants, and farmer’s markets.

Pest and diseases.

Chives, like many plants, can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases.  Common pests and diseases associated with chives farming include:

Aphids: They suck sap on the plant leaves, causing stunted growth. They can be controlled by use of insecticides and introduction of natural predators like ladybugs.

Thrips: Thrips are tiny, slender insects that can feed on chive leaves, causing silvering or discoloration. Insecticides or neem oil can help manage thrip infestations.

Downy Mildew: This is a fungal disease that affects the chives, causing yellowing of leaves and a mold like growth on the undersides. Proper spacing, adequate ventilation, and fungicidal treatments may help prevent and control downy mildew.

Rust: Rust appears as orange to brownish spots on chive leaves and is caused by fungal pathogens. Fungicides are best known to control rust disease.

One of the key management practices for pest and diseases is maintaining good farm hygiene.